Divisions I, II And III of the IIHF: How Do They Work?

We commonly think of ice hockey as a sport that’s only played by the Nordic countries. The truth is that because of their climate and their own characteristics, the countries of the north of Europe and America are the most prominent in ice hockey, and that’s why they occupy elite divisions, as well as qualifying for the World Championship. But there are also three divisions with teams from places not so usual for the ice hockey world. These are as follows.

Division I

It consists of 12 teams and is divided into two groups: A and B. From group A, the two best teams go up to the elite division, while the worst one goes down to group B. In contrast, in Group B, the two best teams go up to Group A, while the worst one goes down to Division II. Division I is commonly regarded as the second division of European clubs, as ten of its twelve members are European: Hungary, Lithuania, Slovenia, Estonia, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, France, and Austria. The other two are South Korea and Japan.

Division II

Also composed of twelve teams, Division II works in precisely the same way as Division I, with a group, A and B. Seven European teams (Belgium, Croatia, Georgia, Iceland, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, and Spain), two teams from Oceania (Australia and New Zealand), two from Asia (Israel and China) and one from the Americas (Mexico) currently participate in this division.

Division III

Division III is the lowest of all the divisions in hockey. Again, it’s divided into two groups; in one group, the teams compete to move up to Division II, while in the other, they compete in qualifying and staying. In the group for promotion to Division II are Chinese Taipei (Taiwan or ROC), Luxembourg, Turkey, Turkmenistan, North Korea, and the United Arab Emirates. Also, the qualifying group includes Hong Kong (China), Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kuwait, Thailand, Kyrgyzstan, and South Africa.